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The Tire Fire

fire hydrant

I rolled over and back
again and again
last night.
My heart was a tire fire.

I was seized at seventeen
when the fires raged in Ontario.
Helicopters circled black smoke fog above fourteen million tires
while reporters talked about how
no one could make this stop.
I didn't know then that some fires can't be stopped.
Some fires have to burn
until the thing that feeds them is all gone.
Some fires leave a legacy of black pollution,
and birds litter the ground for weeks and years afterward.

The fire burned during the worst part of winter,
and two-and-a-half thousand miles away
I hid under blankets in a dormitory,
watching the fire on a tiny black-and-white television
and praying for birds.
It burned for seventeen days, and I was seventeen,
and the number of tires was a biblical multiple of seven,
and the reporter had seventeen letters in his first and last names.
My eyes grew tired waiting for his name to flash on the screen
so that I could recount and more firmly establish the portent.
The math was simple, and I knew for certain:
if I saw the spring, it would be a miracle.

And that is how I rolled and rolled in my bed last night,
my dream heart a tire fire,
trying to shake off seventeen
like a bad seed.
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